I suffered from the Epstein Barr virus in my 30s, which crippled me dramatically for many years. During this time, I was involved in three auto accidents and nearly died from a ruptured appendix that was misdiagnosed in 2010. During my recovery from that dreadful sequence of life changing events, I broke my elbow, which took more than 18 months to heal properly.
When I overcame the obstacles and finally felt strong enough to exercise, I committed to transform my broken body into one of strength and life. I started slowly with bodybuilding, conditioning, and functional training at the gym six days per week. I added outdoor hiking on steep terrain to build my stamina later.
In 2011, I set a goal to compete and trained day in and day out for a year. I was hooked. In 2012, I entered four competitions and placed in three of them. I walk past my fourth, third, and second-place trophies in my home every day. They remind me of the obstacles I kicked down and how many doors are open for me now. I'm infinitely grateful that I have my health and the opportunity to challenge and improve myself in many ways.
I never let myself or my body get bored. I worked all of my major muscle groups with the basics and changed it up often to keep it fresh. I hike nearly every day and finish each hike with several walking lunges.
Weighted Invisible Chair Squats (shown with ball)4 sets of 1-2 minutes isometric hold
Dumbbell Sumo Squats (shown with barbell)5 sets of 15 reps
My meal plans are well-balanced and vary slightly according to my workout schedule. All of my food comes from whole food sources and I steer clear of all processed and sugar-laden foods. The cleaner my food, the better I feel and the better my body functions to burn fat. My meal times shift according to my workout time, but they are typically spaced about two and a half hours apart. I gave myself a pure, adulterated cheat meal once per week and eat whatever I want.
Physical fitness has been a passion since my youth. I lifted weights and trained in high school, but subsided when I suffered the physical setbacks I mentioned earlier. A former employer suggested I should be a fitness model, which encouraged me to start training while I recovered from a ruptured appendix and a broken elbow. The results were dramatic and encouraging; they fueled me to get up every day before sunrise, go hike the mountain, and do a long session at the gym. I felt healthier and stronger every day and that still continues today.
I worked as a personal secretary for two attorneys in 2011. One day, Dennis Riccio, who is an amateur bodybuilder and former football player, encouraged me to pursue this career. His encouragement confirmed that this was my goal. I already ate healthy and only needed to commit myself to the training. I thank him for the encouragement and will always be grateful.
It's no secret that adversity leads us to success. We have no reason to work for a goal unless we are challenged along the way. That is why we are grateful to our teachers, coaches, and loved ones who stand behind us. My physical infirmities were challenges I couldn't have overcome without Bill Ponath, my friends from church, and most importantly my Lord and Savior to who I give all the glory.
My plans are to continue lifting weights, hiking, and using my spin bike on a regular basis. I would like to take up jogging several days per week as well. I love being able to do more today than I did yesterday. I never plan to grow old; I only plan to grow stronger and defy age. My next competition will be July 4, 2013, at Muscle Beach in Venice, California. I will hope to win, but more importantly, I want to enjoy the expression of life that God provides me. I've been invited to sing the National Anthem at the competition opening and I'm honored to because I love this country which gives us incredible opportunities to succeed in our chosen endeavor.
Listen to your body and learn to rest when necessary. Tweaking your program and diverting from what your trainer originally provided will only do damage in the end. Push yourself past the limit every day. Never underdo the job, but don't overdo it either. Learn to take it all in and then balance everything. Only you will know when you are satisfied with your effort.
Melissa Rex. She's an amazing competitor and has competed many times. She started competing in fitness and crossed over to bodybuilding. Melissa is one of the most giving people I know. During my last three competitions, she was backstage for all the inexperienced competitors to keep everyone on point and to fine-tune people's posing. She's an inspiration because of the tremendous obstacles she overcame to be who she is today. She earned my infinite respect and admiration.
We all learn by example. Seeing other bodybuilders on the website obtain their goals motives and inspires me to be a greater athlete than I ever imagined I could be.
- "Faithfully" by Journey
- "Rocking Into the Night" by 38 Special
- "To Love You More" by Celine Dion
- "Just Wanna Say" by IsrAEl Hougton
- "Show Me How You Burlesque" by Christina Aguilera